Benjamin Gillikin, one of the most accomplished executives in the fragrance industry, said Monday that he will retire at the end of the year, capping a 38-year career.
Gillikin, 62, will step down as president of the Clarins Fragrance Group, a post he has held for the last two and a half years. Management of the fragrance division will be assumed on Jan. 1 by Jonathan Zrihen, president and chief executive officer of the parent Clarins USA.
Before taking the helm of the fragrance division, Gillikin held a series of positions within Clarins for 12 years, including president of Thierry Mugler Parfums for North America. Working in tandem with Mugler worldwide president Vera Strubi, one of the most influential marketers in world perfumery who also is retiring, Gillikin engineered the successful American launch of Mugler's Angel women's fragrance in 1993.
Angel, which still ranks in the top three fragrances worldwide, became an icon for the smash-hit designer niche scents that dominated the Nineties.
Gillikin later took the helm of the Clarins fragrance division and rebuilt the group's portfolio of scents, including those by Mugler and Azzaro.
"Mr. Gillikin has been a valuable asset to the Clarins Group, and we are sad to lose him," Christian Courtin-Clarins, chairman of the Paris-based parent Groupe Clarins, said in a statement. "His contributions have provided a solid foundation for us to continue to grow the company's successful fragrance business. We wish him bon voyage as he enters this new journey in his life."
Gillikin began his career with Elizabeth Arden in 1968, holding a series of sales and marketing posts in the U.S. and Europe. In 1983, he was named president of Arden's subsidiary for France and the Benelux countries. In 1989, he returned to the U.S., where he served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for the U.S. at Boucheron.
Gillikin said Monday that he views his upcoming retirement as "my second career." In eight years he has not had two weeks of vacation together, Gillikin added, and he is planning a national tour to visit his five grandchildren and five children. In February, he and his wife, Deborah, are planning a vacation in Australia and New Zealand, then it will be a summer of sailing his new boat off eastern Long Island, where the couple has an East Hampton, N.Y., home.
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